It’s now been well over a year since we began the “new normal” style of sanctuary operations.
The objective of these changes has been to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the chimpanzees. Of course, the nuclear staff cannot stop interacting with the chimps entirely, so we’ve found other ways to meet their daily needs while maintaining a bubble of safety around them. To facilitate this social “quarantine,” we had to sadly cancel many on-site initiatives powered by our extended community of volunteers, interns, and local supporters.
The need for social distancing hasn’t stopped these people from contributing to the organization on a Major-League level, though.
In a recent blog post, Diana described the remarkable work that our volunteer corps is continuing to do during the pandemic. We know that many of the volunteers and interns would be helping at to take care of the chimps if public health conditions allowed for it, but they’ve found ways to help the sanctuary regardless. Take that, SARS-CoV-2!
Today’s blog is dedicated to the members of Central Washington University’s Primate Awareness Network (PAN), who have provided crucial support this year by planning creative and fun events for the sanctuary. This year, they arranged an art contest and exhibition at Gallery One in Ellensburg and a smash fundraiser at Dru Bru’s new taproom in Cle Elum. They did all this while hosting a virtual primatology conference, collecting enrichment materials for the chimps from locations around town, helping CSNW staff to enter welfare data into the sanctuary’s new database, and continuing their mission of advocating for primate conservation and welfare via social media outreach. Given all they’ve done for us, the least we can do is to thank this year’s PAN cohort of Ashton, Calvin, Carson, Courtney A., Courtney G., Danna, Jenna, Kelsie, Malcolm, Margaux, Riley and Sydney for all their dedication and enthusiasm.
(To learn more about the Primate Awareness Network, check them out on Facebook or @cwu_primate on Instagram and Twitter. You can see flyers and photos from a couple of their recent events below!)
In addition to heartfelt appreciation, we owe some of them cheerful congratulations as well. They’ve all been advancing their respective research projects outside the sanctuary despite the turmoil of the past year, and all of them are embarking on new adventures, including (but not limited to):
Ashton recently co-authored a paper about COVID-19’s effect on wildlife in the journal Mammal Review and began working at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.
(Fun Fact: CSNW board member Dr. Lori Sheeran is Ashton’s advisor and also co-authored the paper!)
Carson has been accepted into the Applied Anthropology doctoral program at Texas State University where she will study the microbial ecology of free-ranging chimpanzees in Africa.
Jenna has just accepted a full-time caregiver position at fellow NAPSA member sanctuary Center for Great Apes in Florida and will be starting in June.
Riley, after he defends his graduate thesis, will be getting married this summer!
(Jenna suggested I link to his registry but we don’t want to mix it up with our own Wish List, causing Riley and his partner to receive enrichment puzzles and cleaning supplies while the chimps get new bed linens and cookware.)
It’s sad to watch this cohort of students move on without a proper farewell at the sanctuary, but we’re excited to see the places they will go, the things they will do, and the people they will become. Hopefully, local conditions keep trending in the right direction so that we can gradually incorporate volunteers, interns and visitors back into our routine without increasing the risk to the chimps and staff. For now, we’re just happy to express our gratitude for these people and the time they’ve donated to the sanctuary!